design tools

Easy-to-use design tools can be a game changer for marketing team. And that’s because images and videos are vital to every social media team’s arsenal. You can certainly get by with text-only posts, but if you want your brand to stand out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, or another platform, you have to create compelling visual posts, too.

But what if your organization doesn’t have a designer? Or what if your marketing team doesn’t have the pull to get your designer’s time?

Thankfully, there are plenty of versatile design tools that don’t require a design degree to master. In fact, many of these free and affordable tools were made specifically for marketing teams that don’t have access to a professional designer. Instead of pouring their energy into more advanced functionality, these solutions simplify and streamline the process of creating captivating visuals.

These design tools provide you with templates, so it’s easy to create custom images and videos that look professional—even if you’re not. Some of them even let you specify which social media platform you want your assets to look good on, then change the format automatically.

Sound too good to be true? Let’s take a look at some design tools that may be excellent options for your organization.

1. Canva

Use it for: Images, graphs

Cost: Starting at $9.99 per person per month

Free trial: Yes (plus 30 day trial of premium version)

Canva is one of the simplest image-creation tools out there. Their templates and drag-and-drop functionality make it easy to create custom images. Select from their database of stock images and overlay your own text (they have plenty of fonts to choose from, too), then tell Canva which platform your image is for, and it’ll make sure it’s the right size. (You can also specify the exact dimensions you need.)

If you have data you want to incorporate into a blog post, landing page, social media post, or another asset, Canva also has a wide range of ways for you to make that data more visually compelling. Check out their graph options.

They also have a helpful blog, where you can learn how to create specific types of media (like flyers) in Canva.

The free version of Canva comes with more limited features than what you’ll find in Canva for Work.

2. Adobe Spark

Use it for: Images and video

Cost: Starting at $9.99 per person per month

Free version: Yes

Adobe Spark makes it easy to use whatever you have—images, text, audio, video—to create cinematic experiences and high-quality social media posts.

Adobe Spark is available as part of the Creative Cloud, but there’s also a free version you can use (with limited functionality and Adobe watermarks), and a premium version that comes separate from the Creative Cloud.

The paid version essentially removes the Adobe watermark and adds customer support. You can save your colors and logo assets as templates, so you can quickly create images that fit your organization’s style.

Creating videos opens the door to more complex features and functionality, but Adobe Spark makes it possible to keep things simple while still producing videos you can be proud of.

3. Lumen5

Use it for: Videos

Cost: Starting at $49 per month

Free version: Yes

Lumen5 turns your blog posts and white papers into videos. This is a powerful way to repurpose your existing content and get more mileage from the work you’ve already done.

Here’s how it works. You enter the URL of a blog post or article. Lumen5 uses natural language processing to create a storyboard for that content, pulling out the main points and supporting details. Simultaneously, Lumen5 uses machine learning to draw from a database of millions of videos to find clips that fit with the content.

It takes seconds to automatically transform your content into captivating videos, and you can always replace or modify the text and clips if you want something different.

The free version of Lumen5 creates low-resolution videos, has a smaller video library, and doesn’t allow you to create custom themes.

4. Animoto

Use it for: Videos

Cost: Starting at $5 per month

Free version: No, but there is a free trial

Animoto provides storyboard templates to help you create videos using stock photos, stock videos, or your own custom assets. Your Animoto license also comes with commercial licenses to hundreds (or depending on the plan, thousands) of songs to add to your videos. The $5-per-month version doesn’t come with stock images and video.

Fun fact: Crate and Barrel used Animoto to turn photos from their catalog into a video ad they created and launched in less than 24 hours.

5. Piktochart

Use it for: Infographics

Cost: $12.95 per month

Free version: Yes

Piktochart comes loaded with more than 800 templates to help you create custom infographics. Just plug in your data, upload your images, and you’ve got a compelling visual asset you can share on social media or incorporate in blog posts, white papers, and landing pages.

Done well, infographics can be highly shareable and persuasive. Now making one doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

Fun fact: Piktochart has special pricing for nonprofits. If you’re a nonprofit, you can access Piktochart’s premium features for a fraction of the price.

Don’t let your budget stop you from creating great content.

When you read about how successful video ads can be, or the value of using images in social media, it’s easy to shrug it off if you can’t afford a designer. But you’re not the only organization trying to build a brand on a budget. And that’s why there are so many design tools designed for teams like yours.

So maybe it’s time to upgrade your look on social.